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The Rule of 5

Why the Flyers did what they did I have no idea. They waited before the market was set last year and overpaid Michael Leighton on a 2-year, $3.1M contract. As it turned out, better goalies went for less as the off-season went on. The Flyers jumped the gun, and in doing so, overpaid a guy they had absolutely zero business overpaying. -A Comeback of Epic Proportions Comes Complete

The why doesn’t interest me as much as the what.  What happened this summer and what happened last summer was not about goalies.  If the Flyers wanted to keep their team together and just improve their goaltending, Nabokov was the sensible choice.  Clearly, that wasn’t what they wanted to do.

Flyers fans are not unhappy about having Bryzgalov.  They might not even be unhappy with the contract if the Flyers had moved other players.  Moving Richards and Carter after saying they would not is what rubbed us the wrong way.

Holmgren’s a liar, they say.  Some say it wasn’t him, it was Snider.  Either way, Snilmgren said one thing and did another.  Well, sort of.  To quote my grandmother during a Bridge game: “what are you going to do with that spade, eat it?”  When everyone knows you have a card, they know you will probably use it.

Neither player had an NMC.  There were promises of them to come, but what do you think is going to happen when your boss has that option, goes to some trouble to retain that option?  Sets the NMC/NTC on delay?  Signs an 11 year extension?  If you’re not nervous after your team tanks, you didn’t read your contract.

I think moving Carter and Richards out was someone’s plan all along, and it was an indication that the management was entirely unsatisfied with the team.  The moves were delayed, perhaps, by a freak trip to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, but they were never off the agenda.

And that is a little strange, if in fact Snider or Holmgren believe this team has a chance at winning a cup.  Signing Bryz while dealing Carter and Richards breaks the Rule of 5 as explained to me by SJeasy on the Sharks message board.  His theory is based on his study of transactions and results:

Rule of 5. Trade out 2 of your top 5 players and kiss your chances of a cup in the subsequent season goodbye. Occasionally, it is a setup for 2 years hence.

Rule of 10. Trade out 3 of your top 10 skaters and kiss it goodbye. The 10 is comprised of the top 6 forwards and the top 4 dmen…

Corollary to rule of 5: The optimal move is to trade for a player who moves another out of the top 5.

(The top 5 can include goalies, the top 10 is skaters only. I only include goalies as top 5 who do the 65 game and up thing, ironmen. I made the goalie exception primarily for guys like Roy, Hasek and Brodeur.)

The problem is compounded by the fact that they did not re-sign Leino, who certainly would have qualified as one of their top 10 skaters.  So if the above theory holds up, next season will be underwhelming for Flyers fans.  The team broke the Rule of 5 and also the Rule of 10.  Bryz may move someone out of the top 5 but he doesn’t do so by replacing any of last year’s goalies.

So what else does it mean if the team management really doesn’t believe in this lineup?  For one thing, Pronger’s contract was a bust.  It seems unlikely now that the team will improve a great deal before he retires.  But he’s been there, done that.  I don’t feel too badly for him.  Timonen is another player who doesn’t have time to mess around with a team in remodel.  I won’t say rebuild because that isn’t what this is.  There’s just a whole lot of tinkering going on.

Signing Lilja to a 2 year contract instead of just one tells me that Holmgren doesn’t think he has any defensemen coming down the pipeline fast.  I have to wonder how wide that gap is, the one where promising young players should be waiting in the wings.  Voracek and eventually Schenn fill out the forward lines but who is behind them in line?  Wellwood?  I’d be happy to see him again but…

Bryzgalov’s contract may seem like an albatross, but what it really says to me is that Snider and Holmgren know darn well their team will not be as good as it was for some time to come.  They’ll need Bryzgalov around for quite a while.  The upcoming season is a wash, the next may be better, but there are a lot of ifs between here and another viable Cup run for Philly.

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